Thus, for instance, a person who denies the Apostolical Succession of the Ministry, because it is not clearly taught in Scripture, ought, I conceive, if consistent, to deny the divinity of the Holy Ghost, which is nowhere literally stated in Scripture. Yet there is something so dreadful in his denying the latter, that one may often feel afraid to show him his inconsistency; lest, rather than admit the Apostolical Succession, he should consent to deny that the Holy Ghost is God. This is one of the great delicacies of disputing on the subject before us: yet, all things considered, I think, it only avails for the cautious use, not the abandonment, of the argument in question. For it is our plain duty to preach and defend the truth in a straightforward way. Those who are to stumble must stumble, rather than the heirs of grace should not hear. While we offend and alienate one man, we secure another; if we drive one man further the wrong way, we drive another further the right way. The cause of truth, the heavenly company of saints, gains on the whole more in one way than in the other. A wavering or shallow mind does perhaps as much harm to others as a mind that is consistent in error, nay, is in no very much better state itself; for if it has not developed into systematic scepticism, merely because it has not had the temptation, its present conscientiousness is not worth much. Whereas he who is at present obeying God under imperfect knowledge has a claim on His Ministers for their doing all in their power towards his obtaining further knowledge. He who admits the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, in spite of feeling its difficulties, whether in itself or in its proof,—who submits to the indirectness of the Scripture evidence as regards that particular {114} doctrine,—has a right to be told those other doctrines, such as the Apostolical Succession, which are as certainly declared in Scripture, yet not more directly and prominently, and which will be as welcome to him, when known, because they are in Scripture, as those which he already knows. It is therefore our duty to do our part, and leave the event to God, begging Him to bless, yet aware that, whenever He visits, He divides.

In saying this, I by no means would imply that the only argument in behalf of our believing more than the generality of men believe at present, is, that else we ought in consistency to believe less—far from it indeed; but this argument is the one that comes first, and is the most obvious and the most striking. Nor do I mean to say—far from it also—that all on whom it is urged, will in fact go one way or the other; the many will remain pretty much where education and habit have placed them, and at least they will not confess that they are affected by any new argument at all. But of course when one speaks of anxiety about the effect of a certain argument, one speaks of cases in which it will have effect, not of those in which it will not. Where it has effect, I say, that effect may be for good or for evil, and that is an anxious thing.